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August 18 2011

Google’s Recent Site Link Update


We have all probably viewed site links within Google’s organic search results before.   The site links that you have most commonly seen, until recently, have probably looked something like this:

Google’s Recent Site Link Update

The purpose of site links is to help searchers navigate your website more easily.   They are essentially shortcuts to help funnel searchers to the specific page they are in need of as quickly as possible. However, earlier this week when searching, I noticed something very different about how Google was showing site links. Instead of site links looking similar to the image above, they now are appearing more prominently on the search engine results page. Below is an example of how these site links are now being displayed:

Google’s Recent Site Link Update

These enhanced site links appear most frequently when a brand name or specific website name is searched.   As you will see, there are quite a few more links displayed (up to twelve) in the newer version of site links, versus eight in the older version. In addition, the URL and one line of text are displayed, making them stand out even more.

At this time, these site links are automated; marketers can’t specify which links they want to appear. These site links can also change from query to query leading to better results for the searcher, and hopefully for the marketer, too.   These changes are now reflected in Google Webmaster Tools where you can manage your site links. Although marketers can’t select specific site links to show, they can demote site links (removal is not guaranteed).

So how do you get site links like this to show for your organic listings?   The best tactic is to make sure that the search engines can easily crawl all of the pages on your website and that you have a proper website structure. If your site does not have an optimal structure, these site links may not appear.   In addition, optimizing your meta data for every page should help, as a portion of title tag appears within the site links.

Check to see if site links are displaying for your website.   If not, search engine optimization may be in order.


March 1 2011

Searching for Recipes Just Got Easier


Every time I am in need of a new recipe, I always turn to the same place, Google, regardless of how many cookbooks I own. Google has just made my quest for excellent recipes even easier. If you go to Google and search for a specific food or recipe, such as chicken parmesan, blueberry pie, or even pomegranates, you will see pretty typical search results within the body of the page. You may see things like a Wikipedia listing, food websites, Google images, and recipes all mixed into those results. However, if you are interested in seeing recipes only, you can now easily do just that by clicking the “Recipes” link located on the left hand side of the page. This will take you to Google’s Recipe View.

Below is a Recipe View for chicken parmesan.

Searching for Recipes Just Got Easier

What’s great about this new feature is that if you know you have limited time or specific ingredients, you can filter the results by cook time and ingredients. If you are counting calories, you can filter by the number of calories as well.   For those who are all too familiar with flipping through pages and pages of search results to find a recipe that suits your palate and lifestyle, this feature will make your life a bit easier.

For website containing recipes, this is certainly a good feature for you!   As you may expect, however, there is some work required. In order for your recipes to show within the Recipe View and have the opportunity to display rich snippets (introduced in the spring of 2010), you will need to do some coding work. There is quite a bit of information from Google about rich snippets and how to mark up recipe information for you to reference.   Following these instructions will enable your recipes to display in the search results with rich snippets or display in the Recipe View, but it will not guarantee that the markup on a page will be used.  

Try Recipe View to find something new for dinner tonight, or start working on modifying your website’s pages to help them stand out from the rest.

February 14 2011

Google and the Power of Search


We all know Google is powerful, but just how powerful is search and how could it be helping your business?   Earlier this month Google posted a pretty neat video to YouTube detailing some of the data they found through their research during 2010. The video is short and worth watching, but some of the highlights are below:

  • 89% of consumers start holiday shopping online
  • Portable PC shoppers do an average of 14 searches during their shopping process
  • 60% of moms search for coupons/special offers online
  • Google provides the most dating site search referrals; 64% become members
  • 70% of TV, Music and Gaming fans visit sites on the Google Display Network daily
  • The Display Network also reaches more vehicle buyers than any other major portal
  • 75% of patients research symptoms online before discussing them with their doctor
  • 40% of travelers search for consumer reviews before booking their next trip

So what does this mean for marketers?  

First and foremost, if your audience is any of these mentioned above, you should at the very least be aware of your online presence. How does your site rank organically for important keywords? Are you running paid search ads through AdWords?   Keep in mind with any campaign you run, (whether it is Search Engine Optimization to help your website’s pages rank well or a paid search campaign where you pay to have a presence for certain keywords or to be on certain websites) you should be tracking your efforts closely. What are these visitors doing when they get to your website?   Are they spending time on your site or are they bouncing? Are they converting or completing the desired action?

There are so many questions to ask. You may not know the answers to all of them, but being aware of the power of search and how users are currently find your website is critical.   If you are in need of an analytics tool, Google Analytics is a great, free tool to help you analyze your site’s visitor behavior.

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